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Growing a new India

NIKHIL VARMA
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BOOK Our youth need to be more involved with their neighbourhood , says Gurucharan Das, author of India Grows at Night...

the StateOf the State
the StateOf the State

I ndia Grows at Night...A Liberal Case for a Strong State , the latest book by Gurucharan Das is the story of how India’s economic boom has been spearheaded by the private sector, instead of the government. Das says, “The Indian economy grew by leaps and bounds after liberalisation in the early 1990s. In the book, I argue about the need for the government to play a part in the India story. Bureaucratic red tape and inefficiency are the key issues that have ensured that India has thrived despite the government, not because of it.”

“Cities like Gurgaon have grown exponentially thanks to the infusion of private capital and now boasts of malls, office complexes and luxury apartment blocks. However, the administration does not exist, leaving these people to fend for themselves without basics such as clean drinking water and uninterrupted power. We must ensure that in such areas, the government and private sector come together and solves these issues. That is key for the India story to grow,” he says. A strong state that Das defines, is democratic, provides services efficiently and does not concentrate powers in its hand. It maintains both law and order.

“I’m talking about a system where cases do not take ages to get resolved, people get basic services and the political class is aspirational, instead of being mired in negative politics.”

Das talks about the need for a liberal political party that works according to the aspirations of the growing middle class. “The political discourse in this country ignores the middle class completely and is based on grievances one group/community has against the other. This brand of identity politics derails any development and ensures that the government is mired in controversy instead of doing constructive work. The middle class has been awakened by the Anna movement, though it is very illiberal in nature. I want a liberal party that fulfils the immense promise this country holds.”

He adds, “The youth in this country need to be more involved with the neighbourhood. If we take care of issues plaguing our neighbourhoods such as cleaning the garbage, enforcing civic and traffic laws, before worrying endlessly about graft at the top reaches of the government, change can come about.”

Das contends that blaming all the ills of the Indian economy on the present political dispensation is unfair. “Unlike China, the state in India has been fairly weak throughout history and barring periods of rule by the Mughals and the British, India has never been ruled by one despot. China, on the other hand has been governed by a strong state throughout its history. That explains the difference in the development models adopted by both countries.”

Das says that India and China follow very different systems and comparing the two would be unfair. “Both economies are on the path to become middle-income economies in the next decade or two. However, for development to be more even, and reach the standards of the developed world, India needs to fix its governance and China needs to fix its politics.”

The book, published by Penguin India, is priced Rs. 599.

NIKHIL VARMA

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